“the stuff where the composition has a seduction to it” by Sasha at her desk

Friday July 5, 2019
5:05pm
5 minutes
From a quote by Jeff Buckley

I used to tempt fate by riding my blue
bike with no helmet to houses uphill
where I would undress faster than I could
say “yes” or “no”

The stuff that hope is made of
caught between my fingers
the world thick with temptation
sticky with seduction

I would slip my phone number
written on receipts
in back pockets of men
who smelled like summer
who smelled like Brazil
who smelled like drumming

“I always gotta comfort you” by Julia at her desk

Sunday June 23, 2019
5:40pm
5 minutes
Stronger Than Me
Amy Winehouse

I’m a little weary of men who ask for my advice on the phrasing of things.
Like, which word should I use to sound less aggressive?
This is a normal question but I resent being asked.
Here, this is how you pretend, is what you’d like me to say.
The truth is your instinct is aggressive and my words will
not change that from true to no longer.
I wonder why then, if women think so deeply on the correct words to feel,
are men as busy contemplating which word they should hide behind?
Is one of these the right way?
Is there an invisible punishment for failing to adhere to one way or the other?
I’m weary of men who ask for my heart as armour for their actions.
Ones who won’t think twice about changing their feeling
but will go to great lengths to avoid the consequence of that feeling,
who will employ my empathy but discard it upon use.
Always in use.

“Oh, good for you!” By Julia on her patio

Saturday June 15, 2019
12:44pm
5 minutes
Overheard in the alleyway

You’re a good little pet
I give you a pat on the head
Woman the size of a doll
Because the man doesn’t
Take her seriously
She doesn’t need to be taken
Seriously by this man who does not listen she wants this man to stop speaking so she can show him
She wants it
She wants it
All her life waiting for the chance to prove wisdom, look a little older
And open your mouth to say
And now she is older but he is still in the old way and congratulates her for doing her job as if it’s a feat of nature
As if she deserves a treat or an allowance
She doesn’t need it
But she wants it
Him to stop speaking
Him to start listening
Him to hear the good
Ideas
Him to actually deserve them
Then he starts talking about his son
His tall good looking talented and unhappy son looking for a doll
To marry him
A doll like her who smiles grace
But seethes underneath
Who waits
Who sits

“tired, bearded men” by Julia at her desk

Sunday March 24, 2019
8:58pm
5 minutes
Ways To Take Your Coffee
Leath Tonino

They’re tired because they are always worrying about their beards. Always trimming, and rubbing, and massaging them. They’re up early cause they need to style it so it looks naturally luscious. They need to style it so people will be attracted to them and understand on a deeper level that they care about details. That they care about expression. That is a good beard. One who has been sculpted by the hands of caregivers, thoughtful displays of affection and respect for their face.

Okay I started this off with more of a punchy vibe and now I’m all enamoured by men and their facial hair. Women have makeup as acceptable face alterations. Men have hair to coif and style and exude charisma out of. It’s art, when you think about it: all those tight lines and varying levels of rigidity.

“I married Dave” by Julia at her desk

Monday October 8, 2018
8:30pm
5 minutes
Plants Don’t Have Birthdays
Andrea Gregor

I married Dave
He is the one I wanted to marry
He is the one I wanted to marry
He is the one I wanted
I am happy with Dave
He is the one who makes me happy
He is the one who
He is the one who makes me
I am in love with Dave
He is the one I wanted to love
He is the one I loved to want
He is the love I wanted
I settled for Dave
He is the one I wanted to leave me
He is the one I wanted to leave
He is the one I wanted then didn’t
I am still with Dave
He is the one I regret
He is the one I didn’t expect
He is the one I was too afraid to question
He is the one I can’t see myself in
He is the one who was there
He is the one who had a car
He is the one who had a temper
He is the one who had a problem
He is the one who had a temper
He is the one who lied
He is the one who kept me small
He is the one who I let keep me small
He is the one I married

“turns up the heat” by Julia in Nicole’s bed

Thursday December 21, 2017
12:09am
5 minutes
a flyer from The Cultch

Her room, she says, is too cold to sleep in. Except when he’s here and he’s furnace and he’s dripping sweat in her sheets. I ask if I can turn the oven on tomorrow. She says it might blow up the whole place and better to put on a better sweater. I have a better sweater now. It was the only thing I told myself I’d bring and then I packed too many what ifs and accidentally forgot to leave some things behind. I forgot that I told myself I wouldn’t smoke so much.
She says we’ll have to make sure to look out the window. When I ask if there’s a meteor shower she doesn’t laugh. She says 10 somethings of snow will be falling tonight. I don’t remember the measure of snow she used. It wasn’t what you would have expected. He’s not coming by to warm the bed. She says I won’t be meeting him until tomorrow.

“making a retreat into self-protective cynicism” by Sasha at Knowlton Lake

Tuesday September 26, 2017
10:28pm
5 minutes
Fighting the Cowardice of Cynicism
Caitlin Moran

My cynic wears tortershell glasses
And has brown eyes

Her wardrobe is browns and greys
White black

She has an astoundingly dry
Sense of humor

She drinks dry martinis

She speaks Italian
French
Spanish
And a little bit of Japanese
Enough to get by
Enough to order the best sushi

When she speaks
People listen
People hear
Especially men
Men listen
No one
No one
Mansplains to her

She never has to repeat
Herself
She never has to interrupt

“He presses a button” by Julia at her desk


Tuesday August 29, 2017
9:27pm
5 minutes
from VO sides

i watch him from the corner of my eye
he is sly
a man on a mission to push all of my buttons
coming for me like a dart
flying through the air, straight for wherever he aims
did i mention he has great aim?
taught to throw a baseball at the age of three
and now the target is me
i can’t avoid it, it’s the end,
i’m nothing but a machine
when he wants laughter he strikes the soft above my knee
says something unexpected in that charming sort of way
if he wants to knock me over
he hits below
buckle and shake until i make peace with the ground
i am onto him
looking for any kind of reaction
reaching out and teasing with a smirk
hovering right above my button
i am defenseless
yet feeling tension
will he won’t he
no sir yes sir

“I don’t ever think about death” by Sasha at the Airbnb in Kelowna


Monday March 13, 2017
11:32pm
5 minutes
Glory And Gore
Lorde

He breathes fire
He drives a yellow Honda
Civic and always
goes at least thirty
kilometers over
the speed limit

I’m not sure if
he thinks that
he’s beyond the
parameters of life
and death or if
he’s just jacked
up on energy drinks
and the fact that
his muscles are growing

He isn’t interested
in women or girls
He goes to work at
the lumber yard and
then he drives to
the gym

That’s it really

Sometimes he’ll go
to a party at Steve’s
place and when he’s
there everyone will
say

“Why don’t you ever
hang out, man?”

“a supermoon in Taurus.” By Sasha in the bath


Sunday November 20, 2016
10:04pm
5 minutes
From chaninicholas.com

Thirteen in Peurto Vallarta walking
ahead my mother and sister keeping close

Men in Tommy Hilfiger T-shirts hiss and growl
first taste of the power and the burden

Fish tacos on the beach salty hair
Sunburn like a bad weather forecast

At the hotel a man who works there
teaches me how to say “How are you?” in Spanish

He blushes and looks at his Nike’s when I ask it
I take my hair out of a ponytail

“I do not lie to you.” by Julia on her bed


Tuesday April 12, 2016
9:51pm
5 minutes
from a text

When you ask me for the truth I gladly give it. Not to everyone, but to you, I don’t how not to. I remember sitting with you in a dusty bar a year and a half after first meeting you and feeling like that was the first time I actually got to know you. You said some profound shit and you were as lucid as I’d seen you. I preferred you like that. I wonder if you noticed me opening to you too. If you noticed me sharing more secrets or more weaknesses or more dreams laced in marijuana and vulnerability. We are close now like a weird combination of two unlikely flavours that you avoid combining at first because the idea puts you off, but that no longer surprises you once they’ve been mixed together and tasted and enjoyed.

So now. We’re both here: you in love with someone who loves you even more than you love him, and me in love with someone who loves me for reasons I will never comprehend, and we still have each other when we’re dying or when we’re thriving. You ask me if you think you deserve to be happy. I say yes. You ask me if you made mistakes. I say yes. You ask me if I’m happy. I say yes. You ask me if when the world ends, can we hold hands in a tulip garden. I say yes.

“This never happened before.” by Julia on the 99


Monday April 11, 2016
11:39pm
5 minutes
overheard on the 99

You tell me you love me like a bazillion times a day and I say it back maybe once? Twice if I’m in a good mood. I wonder it it bothers you that I say I love pizza more than I say I love your lips or your hands or whatever nice shit you say to me. You don’t seem bothered. You seem normal. Not even phased. I assume because you must believe you’re hearing me return your sentiments every time you say them cause otherwise your heart would need mending. And I’m saying you seem fine so I imagine you feel great about needing to express yourself so much and being with a person who needs coffee before speaking to you and who wants to be left alone for the first 40 minutes after returning home. I used to think saying I love you meant meaning it. If you asked me now I’d say it had nothing to do with that.

“In terms of expenses” by Julia on her couch


Sunday April 10, 2016
11:44pm
5 minutes
from an email

Mia and I have plans on the weekend. She wants to go camping and I want to go where Mia goes. So we’re going camping. She says it will be really easy if we just pack a tent in my car and then sleep in cornfields or daisy patches or whatever the fuck she actually said. I said yes. I said, I love camping, and I’ve been camping many times, and I am not afraid of getting caught by police or bears or raccoons or snakes. Mia wears an anklet that drives me wild. It’s a gold infinity rope thing and I didn’t know I liked ankles, but fuck hers are nice. She asked me recently if we could squeeze one more person in the back. I heard myself say yes but my whole body was screaming no. My body was too late to the party. It was distracted by the smell of her ponytail.

“In an attempt to get around this problem” by Julia on the 99


Saturday March 12, 2016
5:24pm
5 minutes
Epigenetics2 Revolution
Nessa Carey


There’s a man staring at me from under a balaclava. I am scared but more than that- I am furious. I think if I show fear he wins. I am mad that he is winning. I am so mad that he is anything on this planet, but because I have to deal with this, I am angry that these stupid tactics are working on me. He is on my mind. At the front of it. I tell myself not to look up at him. I don’t want to meet the gaze of this ridiculous human being who’s growing harder in his pants at the thought of displacing me in my rightful position on this earth. I tell myself that if I don’t look at him, I will be the one in control. I am desperate for another human to get on this god forsaken bus so I can avoid eye contact with him or her as well so it doesn’t look like he’s getting to me, just seeming that I don’t look at anyone, that I don’t give a flying fuck about connection.

I am afraid.
And I hate him for that.

“a wacky one” by Julia at her dining table


Saturday, January 16, 2016
12:05pm
5 minutes
overheard on the 16 bus

I don’t know what he meant when he said “That’s what you do.”
Said like an insult instead of forgiveness. Said like punishment. Said like tar.
I said I was sorry for nagging him and he said, “That’s what you do.”
Bells. Sirens. Those words went off in my brain like a fourth of July massacre.
That tone.
Loud.
And clear.
But I don’t know what he meant, that I nag, that’s what I do? Like he’s come to know me as the type who won’t ever pick a battle, or back down from an opinion that not everyone shares?
Or that I am sorry a lot and so I apologize a lot, and maybe that’s the thing that I do.
Either way it did not feel like a compliment.
Or a way to mend the bridge that we had both taken a match to earlier.
I wanted to reach him when he felt far away.
My instinct was to cry so I made very sure not to.

“Rainfall warning” by Julia on her couch


Thursday November 12, 2015
10:31pm
5 minutes
from the weather network

Hasn’t stopped raining for weeks. Grant called last night to tell me he was sorry and wished he could have stopped by more. I told him not to worry, there were enough people coming by the house to make sure I was getting out of bed. He asked if Mary-Beth made he famous Parmigiana and I said yeah, for the third time. Hasn’t stopped raining since. When I found out, Grant was on his way over to drop off a pair of winter gloves for Owen so he was there when it all hit. He gave me a long hug and told me it was going to be okay. I didn’t let him leave me that night and he’s still acting strange about it. I don’t know why he feels bad, nothing matters anymore. I’m the one who has to live with it, and all I know is life is pretty short so nothing fucking matters. Hasn’t stopped raining for weeks.

“in response to” by Julia on her couch


Wednesday November 11, 2015
2:10pm
5 minutes
From Performing Site Specific Theatre Ed.
Anna Birch and Joanne Tompkins


Call my name, I say, hey, call it again, I turn I face you.
Hey.
You don’t want to stop for me?
Why you got something worth the time I’d be losing?
Maybe.
Oh yeah?
Yeah maybe I got somethin worth your while.
Mhm, do you?
I said maybe didn’t I?
Mhm, so when do you prove that then? Or are we just gonna sit here all day discussin it?
Shoot a smile, I say, Later then, nod your head, I move in close.
Hey.
What’s this?
You don’t like it when I get near your face?
I never said that.
But you agree, don’t you?
I don’t like anyone this close to me.
You don’t act like it.
I don’t need to.
Is that right?
Yeah.
You act all tough when someone threatens your comfort?
Gotta protect my space.
Yeah, and don’t you forget it.

“I met my first savant 52 years ago” By Julia on the A train


Saturday, August 1, 2015
3:30am
5 minutes
http://blogs.scientificamerican.com

I didn’t want to meet him. I wasn’t really in the position of meeting someone outside my own brain let alone someone outside my own comfort zone. I tried to be sweet but I came off as this precious little bitch with an agenda and a superiority complex. He was kind. He played me the song he wrote on his banjo and asked me if I thought if sounded genuine enough. I couldn’t lie to him so I told him it sounded like heaven and I wished he’d never stopped to ask me about something I was clearly already thinking about. I hate when people push their shit on you. I didn’t really know sweetness. What I knew was that he cared about my opinion and what I knew was that he didn’t actually need to hear what my true one was. That should have been enough of a warning sign but I stuck around anyway. I waited till he sent me a photo of him wearing army pants to call it off.

“She expected me to be in jeans” By Julia in Brooklyn


Friday, July 31, 2015
2:17am
5 minutes
from Sasha’s transcriptions

As if to say I had already fucked everything up for everyone, she looked straight down her nose at me and slightly shook her head. Not a full shake. Just enough to really shame me and make me wish I hadn’t needed to even come. Stevie was on the other side of the lounge and she was sending over her best “Sorry, Delia” eyes. I think at one point she mimed tightening a noose around her neck out of solidarity but even she knew she had no idea what hell I was in. Stevie happened to meet one of the suitors who liked her care-free, dress-code breaking, entirely beautiful, but way too young looking face and had told the monitor that Stevie was free to remain as she was. I on the other hand didn’t get so lucky.

“grabbed by the notion” by Sasha at her kitchen table


Tuesday, July 21, 2015
12:10pm
5 minutes
From a letter to a celebrity

I love the expansive sky across the back
Shoulder to shoulder
I love the gentle down coat
The hand that fits on waist and hip and bum cheek
Men though
Man though
A man can’t be a sister like a woman
Obvious
Perhaps
But sometimes I forget
When I look across the table and see a gaze that doesn’t understand
Humans are humans
Gender is
I don’t know
I reach out my finger and you touch it with yours
This is our understanding
A quiet moment
Your back to me
Expansive sky
My eyes searching for clouds
In bed
Your chest is my pillow
Legs and arms intwined
Enough

“Reducing your taxes” by Julia on her patio


Monday May 18,2015
10:19pm
5 minutes
http://www.finance.ubc.ca

I met a woman and she was obsessed with money and she gave me her card and it took me a while to realize it but the reason was cause she was an accountant and it dawned on me a couple days later but now it makes sense cause when a woman talks about money that much and with that much authority she must be some professional when it comes to sorting all that stuff out–you know the numbers and the what have yous. I think she was trying to sell me her business cause of the card cause she could hear that I wasn’t too good with all those numbers and terms and she musta thought I was a big dumb man not knowing how to take care of all those financial issues and the like. It got me to thinking of my ex-wife Rosie cause she didn’t know a thing about money and she used to tell me it wasn’t her job to worry about bills and limits and payments and the what have yous and that’s why ours were always such a problem case I didn’t like them either. She used to say that women don’t know money just the way men don’t know gentleness and if we just teamed up then we’d never have to learn the other part cause that’s how God intended it when he looked down on the earth and matched up two people and decided how to make them into a family. This woman with the money she told me real nice that my eyes made her feel things she had never felt before and when she gave me her card and told me to call her I thought for a second maybe she wanted to love me.

“scoop up all the trash” by Sasha at Higher Grounds


Thursday May 7, 2015 at Higher Grounds
3:29pm
5 minutes
from http://www.ecokids.ca

Don’t pick a girl who wants you to treat her like a princess. I did, and look where it got me. Broke, broken-hearted, broken set of toes… Damn. Still got my cowboy hat and still got my pride, though. No one can ever take those two away from me. Look, Sandro, I don’t wanna freak you out, but, like, you pick a girl who wants you to treat her like a princess and you’re never gonna be happy. I mean, I don’t think life is really about being happy, but it’s about being, like, peaceful or something. It’s only when you’re scooping up the trash of your life that you realize – you did everything for her and nothing for you. You’ve spent almost a decade sucking up to someone who wishes she were royalty. She’s not! If you’d just stuck to your guns and told her that when you first got together, “Honey, you’re from Campbell River, you’re never gonna be Cinderella, get over yourself…” maybe things would’ve worked out a little differently. I want the best for your Sandro, I don’t want what happened to me to happen to you… I mean, what am I supposed to do now? I’m forty two. I’m supposed to start over?

“And now I know he’s not my soulmate” by Sasha at UBC


Wednesday March 18, 2015
1:16pm
5 minutes
overheard at aroma espresso bar

Lying beside G., he smells like salami and body odour or maybe his body odour is salami-like
And now I know he’s not my soulmate
My soulmate’s sweat will smell like pinecones
Looking across the table at A., he chews like a rabbit (all front teeth) and it’s even stranger because we’re eating sushi
I down a half bottle of sake (come on, they’re small)
And now I know he’s not my soulmate
My soulmate will chew mostly with his molars
Flecks of rice will not escape when he leans in to tell me about the shower gel at his gym
Walking beside Z., he always keeps a half-step ahead of me, preferring that I always be in “catch-up” mode
And now I know he’s not my soulmate
My soulmate will walk with me, side-by-side, fingers grazing like blades of grass

I trust signs
It’s a sign
There’s a sign
And there, too

“I’ll try and take it off” by Sasha on the 99 heading East


Thursday January 29, 2015
6:36pm
5 minutes
overheard at Mina’s Fabric

M: I’ll try and take it off but I’m not making any promises.
W: How could you promise me that? Realistically…
M: Good point but, like, you know what I mean.
Pause.
W: Look, I never meant to let things get like this.
M: I know.
W: And I’m sorry for what I said about your beard…
M: It’s not a big deal –
W: I’m sorry though.
M: I appreciate that. I really do.
Pause.
W: It’s growing on me…
Pause. They laugh.
W: I didn’t even mean to say that.

“bless his heart” by Julia at Laura’s kitchen counter


Sunday January 4, 2015
2:44pm
5 minutes
http://www.mynewroots.com

Oh what a kindness I have known.
A man with a full heart is a gift, is a treasure. It bleeds generosity, it pumps only gentleness.
Oh what a kindness I have touched.
A man with a deep well is a blessing, is a joy. It fills understanding, it echoes only admiration.
Oh what a kindness I have felt.
A man with open arms is a fortune, is a delicacy. They embrace home, they caress only calming.

“32 million tonnes” by Julia on the tube


Saturday December 20, 2014
11:18am
5 minutes
from a pamphlet about the pipeline ”

-That’s what Lucinda said to me. I don’t know if it’s true, but apparently, men are attracted to shorter women.
-she’s a liar Sydney, she always lies. Probably said that to you just to make you feel bad
-you’re saying you don’t believe her?
-that girl is made up of 32 million tones of fake, that’s what I’m saying.
-but what if she’s right? About men? And they’ll never be attracted to me?
-it’s rubbish. It doesn’t make any sense so if you want to believe nonsense that’s up to you.
-what are you doing for Christmas then?
-wake up at mum’s, home breakfast, then spend the day with her, then dinner and sleep over at yours
-is daisy coming?
-who is daisy?
-the girl with the glitter hair
-oh right, her real name is Holly. I call her Holly anyway.
-do you want a bindi?
-yeah
-I have to remember if I brought one for you or not. I think I did. Yeah, here, I knew I did.

“It was probably so hard not to slap him” by Julia in Lozzola


Monday December 1, 2014
12:45am
5 minutes
A text from Katerina

Turned around with a fire in my face and I knew that if I did not leave in that exact moment I would be facing criminal charges for the rest of my life. I get like that sometimes. Blinded by rage. Can’t see straight. Impulse impulse impulse. It’s like a movie I’ve already seen is playing in the background of my mind, distracting the rest of my brain from figuring out what I’m about to do. It’s fuzzy, there are a lot of colours, but the moment right in front of me is clear. I’m not sure when it started. I was told to focus on my breathing by more than one person. My sister tries to send me links on how to deal with anger, how to channel my inner black cloud, how not to kill a man who has accidentally brushed up against me at the supermarket while rifling through vine tomatoes.

“a very small quantity of mud” by Sasha at her kitchen table


Tuesday December 2, 2014
8:06pm
5 minutes
Cartapaglia notebook

We’re sittin’ there, at the bar and she’s crunchin’ peanuts an’ makin’ a stack of the shells an’ I been keepin’ my distance but like… So, I turn to her an’ I say, “Nice haircut.” An’ she turns real slow an’ says, “I didn’t get any haircut.” An’ I feel like an idiot, right, like, I coulda sworn something was different about her. She’s drinkin’ that Okanagan Springs, right, so I say to the bartender, “Give ‘er another,” an’ she says, “No,” No?! I’m tryin’ ta buy a beautiful woman a drink! She hops off ‘er stool an’ she says, “You know what, dipshit? I can buy my own drinks! Yeah! I have a J-O-B. I probably make more money than you do! What do you think’s gonna happen, you’re gonna buy me a drink and I’m gonna fall for you? Or give you a pity handjob or somethin’? No fuckin’ thanks!” An’ she goes over to the shuffleboard an’ starts saltin’ the table. My, my, my hands are shakin’, you know what I mean? Thank Christ Tom was takin’ a leak ‘cuz he woulda laughed his ass off…

“It was probably so hard not to slap him” by Sasha at Higher Grounds


Monday December 1, 2014 at Higher Grounds
5:04pm
5 minutes
A text from Katerina

It was probably so hard not to slap him when he turned to you and said, “I’m in love with her. What do you want?” It’s not even a question. Rhetorical or otherwise or whatever. It’s not even a question. If you knew what you wanted you wouldn’t be here, popping peanuts like happy-pills and trying to unbraid and re-braid your brain. Your fingers are cramping like the history teacher you had in eleventh grade who’d had to retire in his forties because he couldn’t grip chalk anymore his hands were so arthritic. You watched him watch her, all bounce, all vapid face, all out and in and out again. He approaches her and she shrugs him off like a spaghetti noodle and he takes his seat again, at the bar, beside you, and he curses you for finishing the peanuts.

“Pumpkins are awesome,” by Sasha on her couch


Friday October 31, 2014
6:52pm
5 minutes
from an e-mail

I was dancing. I was doing my own thing. My friends were somewhere else and I was owning the dance floor. Solo. A guy came up behind me and pulled my hips to his groin. I turned around and said, “No thank you!” and danced away. A guy came up behind me and pulled my hips to his groin. I turned around and said, “Please fuck off!” A different face. Same hands. Same aggression. I left the dance floor and on the way to the bathroom I felt a sob choke in my throat. I wasn’t entirely sure why but I knew it had something to do with me feeling like I couldn’t just dance, alone, without being grabbed. Outside the bathroom door and guy said to me, “You’re fucking hot. How many drinks would I need to buy you to suck my dick?” I burst into tears. Right there. Big ones, not little, sweet, cute ones. He made a few grunts and walked away. I went into a bathroom stall, sat on the floor, and kept crying. A woman in the stall beside me, “Are you okay? You’re probably just too drunk, babe!” I wasn’t. I wasn’t drunk at all.

“MADE IN ITALY” by Sasha at her kitchen table


Saturday October 25, 2014
7:12pm
5 minutes
The back of a room spray

It’s late. The rain’s stopped but the moon’s to blame now. For this insatiable urge to eat gelato. I pull on shorts and a tank top. I’ve been naked because it’s so hot. There’s a gelato place three blocks from the room I’m renting. I see him and I recognize him but I’m not wearing a bra so I keep walking. “Hey!” He calls. I stop. I don’t want to be rude. Fucking Canadian. I stop. He runs towards me. I don’t know him well enough for him to run. My best friend didn’t even run towards me when I got home from China and she hadn’t seen me in two years. He smiles. “You look like you just woke up,” he says and I didn’t just wake up but I’m disheveled. I’m not wearing a bra. “Where’re you going?” His eyes dart to my nipples, then to my lips, then to my eyes. Too slow. “Home,” I say. “I’ll walk you,” he says. My mind races with options – how can I avoid him but get to the gelato but avoid him? “No thank you.” I say. “It’s not safe for you to walk alone right now… You know how it goes with the men here…” “I’m fine.” I say. His face eclipses. His face changes. He looks angry. He starts to say something and then stops. “I’ll see you around,” he says. I wait. I catch my breath. I close my eyes and I think about my first real boyfriend, who took my virginity, who cried when we had sex because he was so scared of hurting me. Where are you, Steve Levine? Where are you now?